7 Essential Basic Dog Commands
Nipping, pulling on the leash, jumping on strangers…you probably already know the signs of an untrained dog. And if you’re the dog’s owner, it can be frustrating and stressful. Teaching your pup some basic dog commands can bring more peace and enjoyment to both of your lives.
Dog commands, also known as “conditioned cues,” can help your dog manage or avoid behavioral problems, stay safe, and be a good canine citizen. Training your dog to learn commands is both responsible and rewarding. It’s fun, well-spent time together that gives you opportunities to gain your dog’s trust as you work as a team to build a strong relationship. Let’s take a look at some of the most common and important dog commands every dog should know.
The most important dog commands every dog should know
Sit is often the easiest and most common command to teach a dog–and one you’ll probably use daily. The sit command can help you gain your dog’s attention so they can calm down for feeding, stop chasing other animals, and stay put instead of running out the door. Dogs typically learn the command quickly and it s the foundation for transitioning to other commands.
A new park? A group of kids? Dogs are natural explorers, and during outdoor adventures, there are plenty of things that will grab your walking buddy’s attention. The heel command allows you to secure and manage your dog while walking. Your dog will learn how to stay at your side and walk parallel to you, which is especially important when strolling through crowds, unfamiliar places, near children or other dogs, or crossing the street.
The release command is one of the first, and most important cues, your dog should learn as soon as possible. This useful cue signals your dog to break or release from a specific command. It is a double valued-based command. The first value is that it signals the dog can leave a specific command, such as sit or heel. The second is that upon release, the dog will be able to interact with their handler.
The sequence of events (command → behavior → release → value) conditions the dog to understand that by leaving a position when they hear the release command they will receive a value, for example, play or running time, a treat, or a combination of several. It’s a teamwork-value-based system that requires both the dog and the handler to do their parts.
The come command is essential for helping keep your dog safe if they break free of the leash, run out the front door, or head toward danger. It teaches them to come when called. This command comes in handy anytime your dog is off-leash outside, whether they're romping around the dog park or scouting the corners of your backyard.
Stay is a basic dog command that can be tricky for them to learn. Controlling their impulses to explore or follow you every minute of the day can be challenging-–kind of like trying to manage a cute and curious toddler. When your dog learns the stay command, you’ll be better equipped to maintain control in various situations and around distractions both in and out of your home. Patience, practice, and proofing (ensuring that they know the command) are key. Another important factor? Teaching your dog the value of the release command. A dog who has been taught the release command will understand that if they follow a cue, such as stay, they will be rewarded when they are released.
“No, don’t eat that.” “No, stop jumping.” “No, stay off the couch.” Having a dog and constantly saying “no” may seem to go hand in hand–so teaching them to respond to the word is important. But it starts by showing them the “yes” marker first.
You want your dog to understand what you do want from them, prior to showing them what you don’t want. Let’s say, for example, you don’t want your dog to sit in a certain area. The first step is ensuring that your dog is fluent in the sit command, and that they have also learned the release cue. Your dog should understand the ultimate value they’ll receive when they stop sitting upon hearing the release signal.
From there, the training should involve increasing levels of distractions. A professional dog trainer will set up a controlled environment designed to initially make your dog break the sit command. After “no” is used as a penalty marker, repeat the sit command to help guide the dog into the correct behavior. When the dog complies, release and reward your dog.
When you show your dog what to do, they will see the value. Then you can teach them what not to do using a technique that’s clearer and less stressful for the dog.
In theory, “off” is a command not a reprimand. For example, to command a dog to get on a table you would use the “up” command. If you want the dog to get off the table, you would use the “off” command and when the dog gets down, you would reward that behavior.
This dog training command list really just touches on some of the most basic dog commands. There are many others, each offering benefits for a variety of scenarios. The good news is that with proper training that caters to your dog’s unique personality, strengths, weaknesses, and natural instincts, your dog can learn these basic commands and many more. A well-trained dog is happier, safer, more sociable, and easier to board. Training can reduce your stress so that you can spend less time worrying and trying to manage your dog, and more time bonding with your pet.
Maximum Canine Service provides personal dog training to build a positive, cooperative relationship between dogs and owners. We understand every dog is different, and we strive to create a tailored training program for each dog. Contact our professional dog training team to start a one-on-one discussion about your needs.